Hallyu 101: The Big Three Agencies (Part 2 – SM Entertainment)

So lets keep following the tread now, you known about YG entertainment and all their big acts.  Now lets talk about number 2 SM Town, they have some of my other favorites of k-pop.


The Big Three

If you’ve been following any of the major groups, like Big Bang, Girls’ Generation, or 2PM, you’ve undoubtedly come across the phrase “the big three” before.  It is used to reference the three biggest, and most popular, entertainment agencies in South Korea – YG, SM, and JYP.

SM Entertainment

  • Founded: 1989 by Lee Soo-man (founding chairman)
  • Notable Acts: Super Junior, Girls’ Generation, SHINee, BoA, TVXQ, f(x)
  • Known for: producing many of the ‘original’ idol groups, starting/leading the hallyu wave
  • Official website (English): SM Town
  • Official YouTube: SMEntertainment

SM Entertainment is home to some of the largest, and most iconic, idol groups of the past and present and has long been considered the company responsible for starting the Korean Wave and spreading K-Pop throughout Asia and the rest of the world.

Like YG Entertainment, the founder, Lee Soo-man, was once a singer himself.  In the 1970s, he had begun to make a name for himself in the then struggling Korean entertainment industry, his group Lee Soo-man and 365 Days became the nation’s first heavy metal band.

After his own career failed to really take off, and spending some time in the US in the 1980’s, Lee Soo-man returned home with the idea that he would “replicate US Entertainment in Korea” and started SM Entertainment.  The company’s original namesake was its founder, but has since changed the name to Star Museum.

In the mid-90s, after doing a bit of market research, Lee Soo-man created what is considered to be the first idol groups in Korea, boy band H.O.T and girl group S.E.S.  The success of the groups was unrivaled and led to the creation of other extremely popular groups like Shinhwa.

The 2000s brought even more groups, and much more success and notoriety for SM Entertainment, specifically with the creation of the very large, very popular groups Super Junior and Girls’ Generation.  Together, the acts under SM Entertainment are known as SM Town.

While there have been a handful of controversies surrounding the label over the years, namely contract disputes, SM Entertainment still maintains its high position in the industry and has a tremendous earning power and global recognition.

One thought on “Hallyu 101: The Big Three Agencies (Part 2 – SM Entertainment)”

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